Posts tagged crafting



Some days are filled to the brim with making.  Its the side of my work that I love most (of course) but its actually a smallish part of the whole picture.  I spend much more time answering emails, writing, planning, calculating, and reading than I really do making.  

But then come those pockets of time where I *have* to spend hours upon hours crocheting or sewing.  For some reason, I find starting nearly impossible, but once I am in my groove my heart sings with it.  And then I get to look back on an hours' work and think "I made that and I'm getting paid for it!". What a privilage.


Top: examples of granny squares and ripples for my crochet class in Wendy Merino Chunky and Texere Chunky Wool.

Middle: child's apron out of Quentin Blake fabric

Bottom: granite stitch crochet

Kat's Crafty Confessions

Ok. So I have something that I need to get off of my chest.

crafting with children




I hate crafting with my children.  


Crafting with Kids

It starts with such promise-- usually a beautifully photographed tutorial on pinterest, extolling the virtues of stimulating creativity with your children.  Each time, I approach the project like an optimistic goldfish, if any previous negative memories remain, I brush them away with the simple "this time will be different".

kid's crafts

It never is.

On average, it takes 25 minutes to set up, 35 minutes to clean up and about 2.3 minutes for my children to 'do' the activity, managing in that short time to fling the materials as far and wide as possible. There is usually swearing (me), often tears (me again) and sometimes tantrums (yep, me).

Of course, that is if they even do it.  If paint is involved, Georgia just paints herself.  If there are scissors involved, Ellis cuts his clothes/hair/(insert other inappropriate object here).  Theo eats everything (as we sadly learned this story to follow) and the cats always have a way of getting involved in some complicated way that ends with glitter being traipsed throughout the house.


children and craft

What makes the whole situation worse is that people just assume that I spend my days happily creating with my children.  As local folks find out about my blog and know that Kevin works in the arts as well, I get more and more comments about how creative we are as a family and how much art we must do.  It is like our deep dark secret, because the truth is, if I am bad at doing crafts with the kids, Kevin is worse.  The most laid back man most of the time, art projects with our children turn him into the craft police.  If a project even looks like it is going to change from the  original intentions, Kev loses it, doing that thing he does with his hair when stressed.

What a fraud, right?  All of that Christmas crafting was a blip in a long history of me freaking out about the mess.  I love it when the kids just draw...anything beyond that sends me quivering in a corner. But then, one or two turns 'round the tank and I forget how much I despise it and out comes the paint and glitter once again.

kid's crafts

And while I am off-loading.  My children also hate wearing hats.  Each and every one of them has done since birth.  


Whew. I feel lighter already.

Playroom and Studio 2.0

Aaah, remember my lovely studio? It was so clean and tidy and beautiful, no?

Uh, yeah.  It quickly turning into dumping ground 101.  

Here's the thing about working at home with 3 children under 5: Wherever you are - they are.  I spent so much time running up and down the stairs, carting yarn here and there, that I never really used my studio.  In those moments when the babies were both asleep and E was occupied, one of 2 things would happen:

- My working upstairs would wake them

- Ellis hollering for me as I was not downstairs and he needed his 200th drink/snack/conversation of the day would wake them.

So a reshuffle took place over the weekend and the playroom became our shared work/play space.  The upstairs still has the sewing equiptment and stores much of the non-working yarn, but my new work space in the heart of the activity means that I can work while they play near by.

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The centrepiece of the room is our old coffee table, transformed by several coats of eggshell paint and two play panels - one Duplo and one blackboard.  The table is originally from ikea and has always been a great coffee/playtable for the children so I am glad to have rescued it out from under the TV. 





Most of the toys are hidden out of the way in the bookcase with the ikea fabric curtain.  


My favourite bits are the imporvised car garage from a spice rack, the wagon "shelf" serving dual purpose as fire surround and bookshelf and the beautiful Sylvia Woodford wall hanging


And of course the fairy lights, because who doesn't like to work by their twinkling glow?



Christmas Handmades: Part 2

I know. Its almost February. You are all planning your Valentine's crafts and gifts and Christmas is a distant memory except for the extra 10lbs hanging over your waistband (ok, my waistband)

But I couldn't not show you this:


It is made from an old duvet and  with a pillowcase used for the straps and pocket.  It is *exactly* the apron I would make for myself..long and wide straps.  Big wrap around sides.  Pocket. Vintage.  *Swoon*

I am notorious for not wanting to give away things I make, but this one may just have been the hardest to hand over. However, my love of my friend definately outweighed my love of the apron.

I still have enough material to make at least 4 more and I should be able to find some time to make one for myself...




When Good Craft, Goes Bad.

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- the 3 vials of glitter spilled all over the floor

- the empty packet of sequins, the contents of which I have yet to find

- the red stained arms, shirt, highchair, table cloth, bath, toilet, wall, tights

- the empty bottle of glue, squeezed into the craft box

Snow Globes A Go-Go


I know I say this about EVERYTHING, but seriously this has to be THE BEST CRAFT EVER.



We saw someone making these on the telly the other night, so it was moved to the top of our massive Christmas to-make list.



And SO SO worth it.  Ellis slept with his last night.  He wants to make more today.  They are just so fun, easy and impressive.



There are lots of tutorials out there on how to make these, but here  through trial and error here is what we found worked best: 




Glitter and confetti (confetti worked MUCH better and didn't get EVERYWHERE.  Plus glitter sticks to the figures and the sides of the jar)

Little Christmas figures from the thrift shop and plastic cake toppers from the party store

Mince pie casings or other items to act as bases to raise the figures off the bottom of the globe a bit

Glycerine (home baking aisle of the supermarket)

Hot Glue gun (we went through 6 sticks in an hour!) - when we do it again, I am going to try superglue as the hot glue had a tendancy to give on some of the ceramic figurines


-We just basically glued the figues to the bases or raised them on upturned mince pie casings.  We filled the casings with wet cotton balls or foil so that there wouldn't be big air bubbles in the globes.

- wide mouth jars worked best for a 'scene'

- Once glue sets, fill jar to the top with water, add a goodly squidge of gylcerine to thicken the water and some glitter/confetti.

- Hold over a sink or pan to catch overflow and screw on lid. 

- You can glue the lids shut, but we found it was better not to as inevitably something comes unglued from so much shaking and there are tears and it needs to be fixed.  Just screw on really tightly so small hands can't open it. 

Be prepared to make LOTS.


Tantalisingly Close

Its 12:30am 1:00am and I am the sewing up of a stegosaurus and an aviator hat away from having all of  my North American orders finished, packed and ready to post tomorrow. I am giddy with excitement about the achievement (3 days early!!!). 45 hats to North America in 2 months, with an additional 15 to the UK, 9 sets of wings, 85 patterns sold and another 17 hats to make for the UK before Christmas...whew!  I am tired just thinking about it. 



But my house is freezing and my eyes are heavy, so I am heading to bed.  I can only hope that aviator hats don't appear in my dreams.

As you can see from the above, my paper doily obsession is reaching obscene levels.  This picture was taken before I replaced the cotton string with red and white bakers twine.  So Christmassy.

The printable is from here, just printed on A4 paper from the computer printer and placed in a spare frame. I am developing another obsession with printables... 

...well really, anything that isn't a hat ;)

Not Your Brother's Jeans(kirt) Tutorial

 Ellis blows through jeans on an almost weekly basis. His skinny little legs and the jeans that fit them make patching a swear-worthy affair, but throwing them away seems like such a waste!! So a new solution was found--> combining upcycling with the ancient art of hand-me-downs between siblings. 


Old pair of jeans (these were sized 2-3 years)

Long strip of material for the bottom of the skirt (for an age 2-3 skirt, my material measured 34" by 6.5") 

1. Take jeans and cut in a straight line just above the crotch and under the pockets.


2. Prepare your skirt material.  Cut it approximately 8" longer than the circumference of the opening of your jeans (longer for a more ruffled skirt, shorter for a more straight skirt...I wanted something with just a bit of flare).  

Use an existing skirt to gauge the width of the material for the bottom of the skirt. I used a strip of material about 6.5" wide. I based this on the width of the pattern on my material, but came out with quite a long skirt for an 18 month old.  However as the jeans are sized 2-3 years, it will be a good length as she grows.

Sew the skirt into a tube by using a french seam.  To do this, fold the material in half, placing the short sides together, wrong sides facing and sew down the edge.


 Then, turn the tube inside out and sew the seam closed again, encasing the first seam inside the other.


3. Hem the bottom of the skirt.

4. Using a basting stitch on your machine, sew around the top edge.  Then, pulling on one of the lengths of thread, gather your material until it is the width of the opening jeans.

5. Turning the skirt material inside out, place the jeans inside the skirt rightsides together, the gathered end will line up with the cut edge of your jeans. I lined the skirt's seam up with the back seam of the jeans.


4. Sew or serge the open end. And ta-dah - a little upcycled skirt out of a pair of jeans that would have been thrown away.  As there is a 3 year gap betwen Georgia and Ellis, the skirt is on the big side for her, but is fine turned over once at the waist.

skirt trip


No. I am NOT procrastinating.  What do you mean?  OF COURSE I had to make a photograph this skirt yesterday instead of making hats.  Georgia NEEDED it, she didn't have anything clean to wear and making it took just almost exactly the amount of time it would have taken to do the laundry ;).  

Have a fantastic weekend!!

And this is why you should photograph your finished object before trying them on your toddler:


I am in the middle of a shop update, pattern release and hat making frenzy. And it is chaos.  My little 'helpers' are omnipresent and constantly pushing buttons - virtual and otherwise. Georgia has reached the "I must find the most dangerous object in the house" stage and must continually be retrieved from the top of something high.  Ellis is extremely excited about all of the activity and is oh-so-ready to be my trusty assistant, ahem. And Theo is just on the move all the time.

And so, when you see all of the pretty pictures next week, know that it took a lot of this:







to get there.

Have a wonderful weekend. When I am not working I will be:

- listening to this (Especially the second track - Wendell Berry put to bluegrass music? *faints, dies, goes to heaven*)

- Eating this

- And itching to make these for Ellis for Christmas






I am on a mission.  Running late for the playgroup at the library and laden with parcels for the post office, I push the buggy as fast as I can down the street.  Georgia is tired and wriggly.  Theo is hungry.  I said I would meet a friend and I am already late.  She will think I didn't turn up.  Again.

I round the corner and I try not to look at the sign.  I try not think about the place.  But it calls to me.  

"I don't have the money to spend" I say to myself. "I don't NEED anything" but already the magnetic pull of its secondhand goodness has steered my wheels off my track.

"Fine" I think as I roll inside the wide doors of the Salvation Army Shop.  "I'll just look. There is no harm in looking".  

Georgia starts pointing to the section I love. We wander back.  I remind myself that I don't need anything.  

But before I know it, vintage textiles leap from the rack into my arms.  A tacky set of faux quilted curtains.


 A bright blue pair of Spiderman drapes.  A floral blue pillowcase.


  ;And then I see it:




A floral printed linen table cloth of epic vintage proportions.  Before I even know what I am doing, I hand over my £2.50 and run out onto the street, breathing hard, my eyes dialated with the thrill.

Later that evening I show Kevin my loot and he knows better than to voice his actual thoughts, but rather mutters "That's nice dear. What are you going to to ue it all for?"

To which I have no response other than:

My name is Kat. And I am an addict.





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Anyone who lives far from family knows that friends are crucial.  They become surrogate aunts and uncles, brothers and sisters. The are the ones who come in an emergency and pop round at exactly the right moment for a cup of tea.

In this department, Kevin and I could not be luckier, as we have people who do wonderful things like:

- cook for tired parents who have been living for weeks on the catagory of meals that ends in "On Toast"

- give the small children sugar and deal with the consequences

- let those same small children trash her house AND then clean up after them.

And give a sewing mama a wonderful gift of beloved things, including this:



I want to make dresses and pinafores and aprons and headcerchiefs out of it.

I want to redecorate my house to match.

I want to cut off a small square to carry around in my pocket like a comfort blanket, I love it that much.

And with 3 curtains measuring 5x2 meters each, I should be able to do all of that with some left over.


Fabric is good...



...but friends are better.


Score: Them 0, Me 1

We used to live in Stirling.  

Stirling is a nice place.

However, we moved to our wonderful house, which happens to be in another town.

New town has a bit of a reputation.  When I tell people from Stirling we now live in this place, we are met with looks of disdain.

"Why would you live there?"

"Umm," we stammer, "it has a lot of things for kids, nice parks and cheap housing"

"Oh.  Of course. The housing." They reply, as if nothing else could draw us here.

Well, I am adding something else to the list.  We have the best charity shops here.  Seriously brilliant.

After we lost our luggage, I found jeans for Ellis for 50p, which in Stirling would have cost me £3.  I also recently found an immaculate Spiderman costume for £2...again in Stirling it would have been £7.

This morning, feeling considerably poorer after shipping off 3 orders at nearly 3x the cost of postage I had estimated, I still needed to find materials for the backlog of wing orders I have.  I wandered around, worried about the possibility of not finding anything and having to go further afield...until my last stop where I hit the motherload.

2 single red striped duvet covers and pillowcases



A pile of pillowcases, and duvet covers in pink and brown (as well as a retro cool spiderman duvet cover)


And my favourite: these simply gorgeous pillowcases that are so worn and silky, they are going straight onto the bed in the studio.



And the cost...£7. I even had change left over for a soy latte with an extra shot of coffee to fuel more of this


and this



Have a wonderful weekend.



Lest you think its only me getting blue things, I have done my boys well over the last week as love

Kev got a pair of blue Noro Silk Garden Toasties after he drooled all over mine. Ok, Ok...he actually has only gotten one toasty, which he keeps waving in my general direction and tells me how much he "can't wait" for the other one to be finished.  I have dutifully cast on the other one, but just knitting in the round is rather dull.


And Ellis' filthy ikea children's table got a new lease of life with some garden furniture and blackboard paint. The furtinure paint was then knocked over in the dark by the shed and I stepped in it and now have little blue splodges all over the house.  On the plus side: the table now matches most rooms.

Watching Paint Dry

Now that title is going to pull in the readers, huh? But I tell you, it is thrilling stuff.  You see this...


Who wouldn't be excited when on Thursday the same scene looked like this...


We've never decorated our room in the 4 years we have lived here.  It had become THE dumping ground.  Unmanageable. I could take it no longer and NEEDED to do something about it.  In fact, I am certain the baby told me to decorate and paint the room blue.  Not one to deny my children so early in life, we began plotting and planning and squirrelling things away for the big change.

To say I love it is a complete and total understatement. You see, I love, love, LOVE it.

There are so many things I love about it.  No clutter.  The colour.  The things we have finally felt motivated to put up on the wall.

A painting by our favourite artist and good friend, the lovely Sally Booth


Vintage French fabric (a gift from Tantie) and a Chagall collection (from Spittalfield market)



Redecoration wouldn't be complete without a bit of crafting...the wood is from a pallet I stole rescued from the alley behind our house.  The drawer knobs are from Laura Ashley, picked up in their ridiculously cheap sale a few weeks ago.  The cloud was whipped up whilst watching Wall-E the other night (note to crafters: not the best film to sew/knit to...hardly any talking, but very cute).  And the shoes are my birthday gift from the lovely and talented Tantie.

Now, the only problem is that I can't actually sleep in the room.  Average night's sleep since the redecoration...3 very broken hours.  I am hoping its just that the baby is as excited as I am.